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The Lab leads Innovation Design Sprint for UNCF Career Pathways Initiative

The Lab leads Innovation Design Sprint for UNCF Career Pathways Initiative

How do you turn the ship– historically black colleges and universities—to adapt to the changing career landscape of graduates? This week, approximately 180 attendees representing 24 HBCUs and PBIs pushed on that question at the 2nd Annual UNCF Career Pathways Initiative Convening. The UNCF Career Pathways Initiative (CPI), funded by Lilly Endowment, is a $50 million investment over a seven-year period, that helps four-year HBCUs and PBIs strengthen institutional career placement outcomes.  See EdSurge article on reactions and learnings.

The goals were straight forward; to think bigger about the design of their programs, share best practices, and collaborate with one another. The best outcome was a sense that the work is critical to the success of HBCU’s and “fiercely urgent.”

At the Lab, we believe that student-centered design has the power to transform institutions. As such, we constructed an intensive 2-1/2 day design-innovation experience that would help university attendees look critically at their current implementation plans to improve student success and career outcomes and ask the questions: is our design student-focused and will it be transformational enough to achieve the CPI goals we set forth?

Throughout the summit, participants were invited to explore and balance the learning of Design Thinking tools and methods with making progress on their CPI plan. They were introduced to design tools such as Empathy Mapping, Journey Mapping, Affinity Mapping, Prototyping, and Napkin Pitches to bring their own work to life and find patterns for insight.

“Empathy mapping allowed us to “remember” or “reconnect” with what the student is actually facing, feeling, etc. Empathy mapping brought it back home to ensuring student-focused design.” – University Attendee

The Lab also introduced the Ten Types of Innovation framework as a way for institutions to think about innovation and changing the game for student success. As part of this segment, the Lab invited MLT and Revature to share their models on how to empower a new generation of diverse leaders and advancing talent and technology.

The convening concluded with two “pitches”: one responding to how universities can leverage one another’s strengths to make progress in this work and the second to allow each institutional team to tell their own Prototype (or implementation) story.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to tell our story.” – University Attendee

“Design thinking was something interesting for understanding and cracking a problem using many brains.” – University Attendee